February 4 – A Set of Inner Doors – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“The stuff of our lives doesn’t change. It is we who change in relation to it.” Molly Vass

Whatever our gifts or wound or life situation, whether we have been married several times or have never been in love, whether we have plenty of money or are sorely in need of more – the core issues of our lives will not go away.

There exists for each life on Earth a set of inner doors that no one can go through for us. We can change jobs or lovers, travel around the world, become a doctor or lawyer or expert mountain climber, our nobly put our life on hold to care for an ailing mother or father, and when we are done, though the worthy distraction could take years, the last threshold we didn’t cross within, will be there waiting.  There is no substitute for genuine risk.

Stranger still is how the very core issues we avoid, return, sometimes with different faces, but still, we are brought full circle to them, again and again.  Regardless of how we may trip to skip over or sidestep what we need to face, we humbly discover that no other threshold is possible until we use our courage to open the door before us. Perhaps the oldest working truth of self-discovery is that the only way out is through.   That we are returned repeatedly to the same circumstances is not always a sign of avoidance, but can mean our work around a certain issue is not done.

In my own life, it is not bey chance that struggling to adulthood with a domineering and critical mother, I have been thrust again and again into situations with dominant men and women, struggling painfully for their approval and fearing their rejection.  For years, I tried to manage the circumstance better, which was like sanding and varnishing the door without ever opening it. I was destined to repeat the pain of rejection, no matter how skillfully I handled it, until I opened the door of self-worth.

Even my calling to be a poet became a distraction that lasted many years.  Feeling rejected and insecure at heart, I quietly made a mission of becoming a famous writer, only to find myself one day replaying the issues of approval and rejection a hundredfold at the mailbox, as I awaited word from countless critical strangers known as editors.  I was stunned and relieved to finally discover myself at the same threshold of loving myself that I had run from years before.

The thresholds go nowhere. It is we who, in our readiness and experience, keep coming back, because the soul knows only one way to fulfill itself, and that is to take in what is true.

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